Longish schedule could boost regional parties’ chances in LS polls

By ZRG | Updated: Mar 06, 2014, 08:54 AM IST

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

The longest ever election schedule announced by the Election Commission (EC) could give a fillip to prospects of regional parties in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

If recent past holds the mirror then the expansion in poll schedule gives an advantage to regional parties. Interestingly, national parties gain in states where the election schedule has been contracted.

If the trend gets repeated this time regional parties might witness positive traction in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where EC has expanded poll schedule this time. On the other hand, polls in Karnataka and Punjab, where the commission has shrunk the schedule, might turn advantageous for national parties.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis shows that in the last decade expanded election schedule has benefited the state parties and not national parties as much. For instance in Bihar EC stretched the election schedule to four phases during 2009. Consequently the outcome favoured regional parties the most there.

In 2009, while the vote share of both BJP and Congress stood at 24.19 per cent, the combined vote share of Janata Dal United (JDU) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) stood then at 43.35 per cent.

Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, EC held elections in five phases during 2009 polls, as against three phases during 2004. In 2009, the total of BJP and Congress vote share stood at 37.75 per cent whereas the combined vote share of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) registered was 53.95 per cent.

Likewise, during previous elections (2009), West Bengal witnessed polling in three phases as against a single phase during 2004. In 2009, the total vote share of Left parties and Mamata’s Trinamool Congress was recorded at 74.48 per cent. On the other hand, BJP and Congress cornered then only 19.59 per cent vote share.

On the contrary, states where EC has cut down the poll schedule this time, national parties ruled the roost. In 2009, Punjab witnessed multi phase elections. While the result revealed that BJP and Congress garnered a vote share of 55. 35 per cent, vote share of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) stood at 33.85 per cent. In 2009 barring, SAD there was not any other regional party in the state to reckon with.

More so, in Karnataka, general elections were conducted in two phases as against the current decision of conducting elections in single phase. While the 2009 result revealed that BJP and Congress acquired the combined vote share of 79.28 per cent, the vote share of Janata Dal Secular (JDS) stood at 13.57 per cent.

Elections, however, have a habit of throwing surprises. Will 2014 buck the trend?